Making September 16, a public holiday for Peace Between Eritrea and Ethiopia
To commemorate the victims of war in Eritrea and Ethiopia, during the Tokyo Peace Day Memorial Ceremony, Eritrea was represented prominently by Eritrean Ambassador in Japan, Ambassador Estifanos Afeworki (Bruno) who narrated a short history of Eritrea and the legacy of 72 years of conflict that the Eritrean people endured since the end of World War II.
Ambassador Estifanos expressed and shared the level in which global superpowers were heavily involved in the affairs of the Horn of Africa region. He also briefly educated the audience, how deeply Eritrea was affected as the devastation caused on its people and the overall impact for its growth and development was negatively affected. Ambassador Estifanos noting the importance of the peace agreement signed between Eritrea and Ethiopia in Eritrea, and in Jeddah Saudi Arabia, in 2018 said,
“Humanity deserves eternal peace”.
During a speech he delivered at the ceremony, Ambassador Estifanos also requested that;
“Starting 2020, the governments of Eritrea and Ethiopia to consider making September 16, a public holiday to commemorate victims of the long conflict of both nations.”
Ambassador Estifanos, who was born two years after the end of World War II, has lived through decades of wars and instability within the region. His lifetime experience is a testimonial of how Eritrea and Eritreans lived through these difficult times.
While the war on terror, as well as the instability, of the region made international news headlines, it is also to be noted that bad relations between Eritrea and Ethiopia comes to mind for most people around the world when they think of the region as a whole and Eritrea as a nation. The views of the world as a whole are limited to the state affairs of the last 20 years. The reality however, is that Eritrea has been a major player in global affairs and continues to play a leading role in the peace process throughout the region. The strength, resilience, unity and prevailing peace in Eritrea and the peace agreement between Eritrean and Ethiopia and its successful implementation will foster a new era of peace, stability and growth for the horn of Africa region and beyond.
Please forward, herein below, video to 22 minutes to listen to his full testimony speech in the Tokyo Peace Memorial Day Ceremony held on March 10, 2019
Prologue The winds of change and hope that have been blowing across the Horn of Africa should inspire the peoples of this long troubled region to fully appreciate their long term socio-political and economic implications. The tested wisdom and experience of the Government of the State of Eritrea (GSE) and the resilience of the Eritrean people triumphed over the potential existential threat emanating from a volatile and rapidly deteriorating political and social situation in Ethiopia. The untenable situation in Ethiopia was a product of rampant corruption among the upper civilian and military echelons and an ethno-political system ravaged by recurrent and pervasive ethnic strife. The failed state, touted as a regional anchor, was the beneficiary of unfettered military, financial and diplomatic support from successive US administrations and European Nations. What aggravated the political turmoil in Ethiopia was the fact that the regime, preceded by an expansionist “socialist” government, was imposed on a population whose collective psyche was still under the firm grip of a deeply rooted feudal culture. Additionally, the self-serving and fear mongering narrative, promoted by the leaders in Ethiopia, that any reform or changes to the status quo in Ethiopia would result in its disintegration was proven wrong by the peaceful but persistent struggle of the Ethiopian people. It is worth noting that the relentless efforts of the Eritrean government under the leadership of President Isaias Afwerki , to support the democratic movements, played a critical role towards the development of political consciousness among Ethiopians. Lastly, the struggle for genuine democracy of the Ethiopian people in general and the youth in particular, under the leadership of Dr. Abiy Ahmed , has been a significant factor in bringing about gradual democratic change and preserving the integrity of the Ethiopian nation.
Just as the identity of a person is shaped and maintained by socio-political, psychological and emotional life experiences, collective historical and political experiences mediated by social values, traditions, cultural institutions and beliefs (McAdams, 2018) are critical factors that contribute to the development of a cohesive national identity. For more than a century, the historical and political experiences of the Eritrean and Ethiopian peoples took divergent paths and resulted in their respective national identities. Regardless, it bodes well for both nations and the region as a whole that the ushering in of peace and cooperation has been enthusiastically embraced by both peoples. To reap maximum benefits from such an unprecedented development and ensure its sustainability, the respective historical and political experiences of the two peoples should be properly understood. Any intentional effort to advance a distorted narrative of their respective histories and dismissal of each other’s socio-political experience will only result in mutual resentment and distrust.
Introduction In this brief article I aim to take a glimpse at and walk the reader through a painful but salient aspect of the history of the Eritrean people and, thereby, make a modest contribution toward a deeper mutual understanding and sustainable cooperation between the two peoples.
Due to strategic geo-political and economic factors, selective gross human rights violations and war crimes have historically claimed a monopoly with regards to international news media coverage and exposure within academia. Others deemed less significant and, therefore, inconsequential have been relegated to oblivion and still remain shrouded in the annals of human history. The extermination of six million Jews in World War II and the Rwanda Genocide of 1994 that resulted in the deaths of almost a million civilians, mostly Tutsi, have justifiably been the beneficiaries of continual international attention. However, crimes committed against marginalized populations with insignificant political and economic clout such as the Arawak Indians (Zinn, 1995); The African Holocaust and the Slave Trade (Clarke, 1992); Aborigines of Tasmania; the Herrero and Nama of Namibia; the Gypsies in Europe; the Kurds in Iraq (Lemarchand, 2011) to name a few did not until recently capture the long overdue attention of legal scholars and historians. Despite the fact each of the above mentioned cases was a product of a unique interaction between socio-political conditions and historical events, the undeniable truth is that in every case the systematic extermination of innocent and defenseless civilians was an important motivating factor.
Therefore, the gross human rights violations committed against innocent Eritrean civilians by successive colonial powers in Eritrea should remain intact in our collective memory lest some segments of our people become victims of what (Scobie, 1992) calls a sense of pastlessness. Realizing the potential danger of historical amnesia, the GSE utilized massive human and material resources to investigate and document, in a stunningly vivid detail, virtually every incident of atrocity committed by Ethiopia on defenseless Eritrean civilians. These invaluable historical materials have been accessible to a large segment of our people; however, for the benefit of our youth in the diaspora in particular and the international community in general, the importance and urgency of translating them into English and Arabic must be underscored. An accurate reconstruction, meticulous documentation and effective generational transmission of this painful aspect of our history is, needless to say, highly significant to the development of our cohesive national identity
The GSE and the Eritrean people should not be deterred from fully exposing and disseminating the abhorrent acts committed against innocent Eritrean civilians. Allowing our history to be told from the perspective of our former colonizers and present detractors is tantamount to trivialization of the atrocities and humiliation our people endured and distortion of our history. We should also be constantly vigilant against persistent attempts to gradually bleach out our collective historical memories by those who advance a revisionist and disparaging narrative of our political and social experience. We should never forget that the crimes committed by successive Ethiopian governments and the subsequent horrible sacrifices endured by our defenseless and innocent civilians are an integral part of our history and national identity formation process.
The wanton killings of civilians, the illegal expropriation of our arable and grazing lands and unfettered exploitation of our natural resources have historically been justified as actions necessary to ostensibly preserve international and regional stability and promote national interests and security. On the contrary, our indomitable spirit and persistent resistance against these gross human rights violations have been vilified in order to serve the geopolitical and economic interests of Western nations. As a people we should be cognizant of the fact that we owe our existence as a sovereign people in a sovereign state to the protracted valiant struggle and enormous sacrifices of our heroes and heroines.
Atrocities against Eritrean civilians did not begin in the recent past. Referring to the harsh conditions during the Ottoman Empire’s rule in Eritrea from the 16th to the 19th centuries for example, our ancestors coined a phrase that captures the essence of their suffering and the brutality of the Turkish rule. The phrase is still used to this day in casual conversations among Eritreans.
Atrocities committed by Italian Colonial Authorities In addition to seeking to secure geo-political interests, exploit economic resources and effect religious conversion , Italian colonialism in Eritrea was also perversely inspired by a racist ideology as manifested in the preposterous motive to “civilize” a barbarian population. General Antonio Baldissera, the first colonial commander, did not mince words when expressing his racist views nor did he hesitate to use the curbash, a whip made of hippopotamus hide that lashed backs raw. It became an institutionalized weapon frequently used to strike terror into the civilian population in order to obtain submission.
It is also worth noting that the perception of “ literate “ Italians about the colonized population was not at variance with that of the racist colonial functionaries. For the most part Italians viewed the indigenous population,
“as not civilizable, promise breakers, deceitful, anarchic, unteachable, and in any case destined to vanish because of famine and vendetta” (Bruner, 2017, p. 3).
The imprisonment, torture and murder of the civilian population based on trumped up accusations of treason and espionage were not only rampant but also executed with impunity. According to (Bruner, 2017), Napoleone Corazzini, a prominent Italian journalist who seemed to be on a mission to expose the corruption and unruly savagery that possessed the colonial police in the city of Massawa in 1891. The following paragraphs, based on Corazzini’s report and quoted in (Bruner, 2017 ) clearly illustrate the unhinged character of the Italian colonial police force and its callous disregard for Eritrean life and dignity. The first appalling incident carried out in Massawa in 1889, was about Getheon,
“a wealthy Eritrean merchant who had been arrested at Massawa, Italy’s colonial port on the Red Sea and imprisoned on espionage and treason charges pursuant to Livraghi’s orders. A search of Getheon’s house discovered a large sum of cash which Livraghi claimed as prize money, contending that the sum represented funds meant for obtaining arms and ammunition for use by rebel tribes. Awaiting trial in December 1889, Ghetheon disappeared from colonial prison. According to Corazzini , Livraghi recognized that the proof of Getheon’s crimes was flimsy and therefore decided to have him killed. Indigenous police dragged Getheon out of prison in the middle of the night, took him some distance away from Massawa, and then shot him twice. Not dead after two shots, the merchant was finished off with stones and clubs. Livraghi witnessed the killing from horseback and then dismounted to verify that Getheon was in fact dead. The body was thrown into a grave, and Livraghi helped conceal the grave by smoothing out the earth” (Bruner, 2017, p. 6).
He cites another brutal killing that illustrates Livraghi’s ruthlessness
“ the case involved Osman, a Moslem Chief. He was arrested in a town outside of Massawa on Livraghi’s orders, also on charges of espionage and treason. Delivered to the Massawa police, Osman disappeared. Colonial authorities told his family that he had been deported to Italy. However, Corazzini claimed that the same police commanded by Livraghi led Osman one night through the countryside. At some point Livraghi ordered a halt and directed that a grave be dug. He told Osman that the grave was for him. Osman threw himself on the ground pleading for mercy, but Livraghi made him stand up and then “ laughing spasmodically” shot him twice. Remounting his horse, Livraghi smoked a cigarette while his squad threw the body into the grave and covered it over. Corazzini suggested that the body was buried “ perhaps while it heart was still beating.” Livraghi then trampled on the grave site with his horse.” (Bruner, 2017, p. 7).
Subsequent to the defeat of Italy by the Allied Forces in April 1941, the British Military Administration (1941-1952) in Eritrea allowed Italian bureaucrats to continue to serve in powerful civilian and military positions. As a result, the Italians continued to abuse their power and commit atrocities against Eritreans. For example ( Almedom, 2006) gives a chilling description of an event that occurred on August 7, 1941. The account clearly illustrates the utter disregard the Italians had for Eritrean lives, as well as the complicity of the British:
“In Asmara, the families of Eritrean police officers had not been paid for several months following “liberation.” Those families signed a petition asking for their situation to be considered by the new administration. Twenty delegates were sent to deliver the petition to the BMA. They were met by a very hostile Italian officer, a member of the “ old guard”, who inspected the signed petition, ridiculed the delegates for trying to voice Eritrean grievances, and ordered one of his subordinates to shoot them. Many were killed on the spot and those who fled were pursued all the way to the Eritrean quarters of Idaga Hamus were some armed Eritreans fired back to stop the chase.” ( Almedom, 2006, p. 115)
War Crimes committed by Ethiopia According to (Erlich, 1996,) the Tigrean Ras Alula, King John the IV ‘s military strategist and ruthless administrator in Eritrea, frustrated with his repeated failed attempts to take Kassala from the Sudanese Mahdists, decided to cover up his military debacle and appease his King by exterminating the Kunama and Nara nationalities and pillaging their villages. The following excerpt from his book clearly illustrates the above stated point
“ On November 1886 the ras ordered his army to march some eight miles southward to the spring of Mogolo. There he camped again, became frustrated with his inability even to contemplate an attack on Kassala, and therefore ordered the greatest plunder in the history of the Baria tribes. During the last week in November, two-thirds of the people and cattle of the Baria and Kunama north of the Gash were destroyed. On 1 December 1886, ordered his army to march back to Tigre, even though, as in the previous year, he had not seen the gates of Kassala” (Erlich, 1996, p. 101)
The struggle armed for independence in Eritrea started in 1961 after all peaceful protests were exhausted. Gradually as it gained both military and political momentum it wreaked havoc within successive Ethiopian regimes. As the result, as the collapse of Haile Sellassie’s feudal regime seemed imminent, Ethiopia’s brutal war against innocent Eritrean civilians intensified. The result was an unprecedented loss of innocent civilian lives, razing of entire villages and immense scale of looting with the sinister intent of eradicating the basic foundations of their lives.
During the struggle for independence and the post-independence era, the PFDJ People’s Front for Democracy and Justice), formerly the EPLF (Eritrean People’s Liberation Front), embarked on a concerted effort to carefully and exhaustively document the atrocities committed by successive Ethiopian regimes. For example, the massive unedited document painstakingly prepared by Tesfalidet provides a disturbingly graphic account of Ethiopia’s crimes against humanity. Furthermore, the important task of shedding more light on Ethiopia’s sordid history has continued through rigorous academic work. As a result, important books and articles have been published. For example, the voluminous and invaluable piece of work by (Berhe et al, 2017) is replete with visual images, incriminating evidence from Ethiopia’s military and security sectors and most importantly testimonials from victims who miraculously escaped Ethiopia’s wrath. In the introduction, the book provides a succinct historical context to help the reader gain a profound insight into the intentions of Ethiopian rulers. The book also includes hitherto secretive Ethiopian documents, such as classified correspondence between high level civilian and military officials regarding its policy of extermination and copious reports on casualties for each incident of atrocity it committed.
The book consists of forty-three cases narrated by twenty nine authors. Each story begins with a demographic and brief socio-economic description of the village, town or city that was targeted for annihilation and destruction. As the editors admit this is not, by far, an exhaustive document but the accurate and graphic narration of each incident indisputably proves the brutality of the Ethiopian regimes and the extent to which they were determined to go to annihilate the civilian population. The book also demonstrates that this was not a case of whimsical acts of cruelty by deranged individuals but premeditated and carefully planned state sponsored crimes against humanity.
It is noteworthy that each incident narrated in the book was thoroughly investigated and carefully analyzed. The following is a list of the Eritrean villages, town and cities targeted by the Ethiopian regimes with the year in which the incident took place in parentheses:
Atrocities committed under Haile Sellassie’s reign: Rora Bet Gebru (1966); Adi Ibrahim(1967); Emberemi (1967); Mogolo(1967); Hazemo(1967); Ailet and Gmhot (1967); Melebso (1967); Adi Shuma (1968); Geleb (1970); Besikdira (1970); O’na (1970); Habrengeqa (1970); Kubub- Abena (1971); Dighe Adie Atba (1971); Um Hager (1974).
Atrocities committed by the Ethiopian Military Junta:
Under the guidance of PFDJ, formerly EPLF, the Eritrean people never contemplated to exact revenge on the military that dehumanized them for decades. On the contrary, according to (Ogbamichael, 2016), following the total military defeat and eventual collapse of the Ethiopian Military Junta in May 1991, the Eritrean civilian population, still reeling from the long and brutal Ethiopian rule, was able to forgive and summon the emotional strength to offer food and water from its depleted resources to the well-armed occupation army as it chaotically trekked, in droves, towards the Sudan in the west and Ethiopia in the south.
Such acts on the part of Eritrean civilians, which are consistent with EPLF’s history of magnanimity, demonstrate their nobility and benevolence. Furthermore, the decision by the Eritrean National Assembly on June 26th, 1998 to protect the rights of Ethiopian civilians in the midst of the “border war” demonstrates the government’s principled stand on the issue of human rights. This should be juxtaposed with the Ethiopian government’s decision to expel and expropriate the property of over 70,000 Eritreans and Ethiopians of Eritrean descent because “ it did not like the color of their eyes”. In fact, anecdotal and circumstantial evidence suggests that the government was bent on exterminating the Eritrean civilian population and even commit instant shooting of Eritrean POWs (Gebreyesus, 2018) during the “ border war”. Thus, to watch innocent Eritrean civilians see off the brutal colonial troops with a tremendous outpouring of forgiveness must have been surreal just as it was a clear testament to their nobility.
Lastly, one can justifiably argue that the United Nations (UN); the African Union (AU), formerly the (Organization of African Unity) (OAU and the Western Nations were complicit in the commitment of these heinous crimes. They chose to turn a blind eye and remain silent despite the fact that they had the regional and international legal instruments to invoke in order to bring pressure to bear on successive Ethiopian Governments. But their appalling inaction emboldened the oppressive system in Ethiopia regime to carry on with its reprehensible policy.
What makes this matter utterly ludicrous is the audacious duplicity of these regional and international organizations to level politically motivated accusations of “human rights violations “ against the GSE in order to advance the geopolitical and economic interests of Western nations and their puppet regimes. Needless to say, the GSE, as the current diplomatic and political developments illustrate, continues to be the bastion of a fiercely independent policy and a staunch promoter of genuine social and economic progress in the region.
Conclusion The main objective of this brief article is not, to borrow a phrase from (Zinn, 1995), to grieve for the victims. Rather, for Eritreans in particular and the international community in general to come to grips with the fact that the Eritrean victims did not suffer and perish in vain. Their sacrifices were made for a noble cause, the outcome of which all Eritreans will relish for generations to come. As survivors of this painful aspect of our history, we shoulder the responsibility of taking stock of their horrible experiences and integrate the new historical awareness into our individual and collective national identity. Just as important is also the task of educating our youth about this important facet of our history.
References Almedom, M. A.: Re-reading the Short and Long-Rigged History of Eritrea 1941-1952: Back to the Future? Nordic Journal of African Studies 15 (2): 103-142 ( 2006) Berhe, S.; Tesfaburuk, H; Yemane, T. (Eds)(2017): Gfi Gezati Ethiopia ab Ertra. HDRI Publishers Bruner, C.S. (2017). Late Nineteenth- Century Italy in Africa: The Livraghi Affair and the Waning of Civilizing Aspiration. Cambridge Scholars Publishin Gebreyesus, Z. ( 2018). Meghuar Igri MeKel. HDRI Publishers Clarke, J. H. (1992). Christopher Columbus and the African Holocaust: Slavery and the rise of European capitalism. A and B Distributors and Publishers Group. Erlich, H. (2006). Ras Alula and the Scramble for Africa. A Political History: Ethiopia and Eritrea 1875-1897. The Red Sea Press, Inc. McAdams, D. P. (2015). The Art and Science of Personality Development. The Guilford Press Ogbamichael, S. (2016). Siret: Sgdan tzelatn Eritrawi SHwanetn, Nalet Publishers.
Rene Lemarchand, Editor (2011). Forgotten Genocides: Oblivion, Denial and Memory. University of Pennsylvania Press Scobie, E. (1992) African Global Presence. A & B Books Zinn. H. (1995). A People’s History of the United States 1492-Present. Harper Collins Publishers, Inc.Rora Bet Gebru (1966); Adi Ibrahim(1967); Emberemi (1967); Mogolo(1967); Hazemo(1967); Ailet and Gmhot (1967); Melebso (1967); Adi Shuma (1968); Geleb (1970); Besikdira (1970); O’na (1970); Habrengeqa (1970); Kubub- Abena (1971); Dighe Adie Atba (1971); Um Hager (1974).
The price Eritreans paid to win freedom and keep it is unprecedented. Eritrea sustained years of battery and endured challenges never seen anywhere in Africa if not the world. Thirty years of Armed struggle from 1961-1991, war against the TPLF 1998-2000, and the last twenty years of No-War-No-Peace especially have proved extremely difficult. The only time Eritrea lived in peace was from 1991-1993 before referendum and until 1997 as UN recognized independent Nation.
We can look at the legacies of the struggle for independence and the border war of 1998-2000 separately. But that would be a mistake. Because what happened over the last 20 years was a continuation of the struggle for independence and by far the most difficult journey Eritreans travelled albeit successfully.
In 60 years, starting from 1961, Eritrea was forcefully annexed. Soon thereafter Ethiopia started to systematically dismantle Eritrea’s resources and disintegrate Eritrean populations. Countless villagers and villages were torched in quest to find Eritrean fighters. Thousands of Eritrean youth were imprisoned, beaten by Ethiopian soldiers.
First Haile Selassie in cooperation with the US, later the Communist Military regime of Mengistu Hailemariam expanded its repressive measures and escalated the wars. Western observers that witnessed the sustained bombings and wars once wrote, “The Stones are Burning,” to express the intensity of the war waged against the people of Eritrea by Soviet backed Ethiopia.
The last twenty years particularly have been debilitating. For the first time in the history of the world, one nation was targeted by Washington’s all-might, Europe, United Nations, the Arab League, African Union, every country in the Horn of Africa. For unknown reasons China and Russia were acquiescent to Washington’s demands In addition, the west employed TPLF and gave the minority regime in Ethiopia green light to do anything it deemed necessary against Eritrea.
These campaigns were far reaching and revealing and showed how Western coordination of resources, media, NGO’s, human-rights organizations, military and financial institutions work. It exposed how the international PR and propaganda machinery work. It also exposed how the West use Human Rights, the War against Terrorism and freedom of speech as cover to pursue regime change in countries of interest. And every tool was all employed against Eritrea to its maximum impact. No country was vilified by international media all over the world like Eritrea. The cut-and-paste journalist pushed the same messages all over. Simply put, Eritrea was a nation condemned.
What happened to Eritrea was deliberate. Resources and strategic location made Eritrea target and the people suffered for sixty years mercilessly as a result. In sixty years, Eritrea endured systemic alienation, deliberate displacement of populations, economic strangulations, thousands of dead, hundreds of thousands wounded-disabled and millions were forced to become refugees. The people of Eritrea suffered economic hardships and unnecessarily endured tremendous pressures.
The timing of the war of 1998-2000 was designed to stop Eritrean take-off. They wanted to give Eritrea no break as a nation. It is hard to imagine in 1991, when EPLF entered Asmara victorious found a battered bare-nation, empty-banks and a nation without institutions. And in less than 4 years as a nation, Eritrea was forced into a war of aggression that she successfully repulsed, subsequently ensured the signing of the Algiers Agreement in 2000 and won arbitration in The Hague.
Soon thereafter, the TPLF broke agreements it signed, violated international borders, announced it will conduct regime change and attacked Eritrea militarily at will, and the international community acted as if it was Ethiopia’s privilege.
Instead of punishing Ethiopia, the world rewarded by helping TPLF violate the rights of the people of Eritrea. Washington and Europe brazenly thought sanction measures and managed to place arms embargo denying Eritrea the right to self-defense and economic sanctions designed to debilitate and render her Eritrea failed state. The language that governed the sanctions were broad and invasive. According to the sanctions everything that entered Eritrea was subject to investigation. Countless number of goods shipped to Eritrea via the Red Sea were subjected to unnecessary searches, stopped and docked in Djibouti for months. Worse yet, Eritrea was paying for it. These included medicine and daily essentials. In simple terms, the term “Arms” can be interpreted anyway and used it as excuse to confiscate countless items and money.
The people were not spared. As part of their destabilizing efforts, Eritreans became the targets. The youth especially were targeted because they are the backbone of the economy and the future of the country. To fleece the nation, US and EU enticed the youth to flee in large numbers by promising asylum. Anyone claiming to be Eritrean was granted asylum no questions asked creating a floodgate of refugees from other countries who thought asylum claiming to be Eritreans. Even Israel, under pressure from Washington, was pressed to accept asylum seekers from Eritrea which led to countless refugees flooding the Sinai.
This ill-conceived agenda was creating human trafficking bonanza in Tigray Ethiopia, where thousands of Eritreans were trapped and exploited by traffickers. ID cards of Eritrean refugees were taken by TPLF strongmen and sold to Tigraians that used the names to enter Europe and US while the Eritrean kids languished in camps.
These are some of hardships Eritreans endured for twenty years. Intense state of conflict and entrenchment of the minority regime in Tigrai made peace difficult to envision. Eritreans are hopeful and resilient people and were certain the minority regime will fall. However, the TPLF appeared intent on abstracting the process. As the movement against regime intensified all over Ethiopia, the people of Tigray were doing their own resistance against the change. Large number of Ethiopian soldiers were stationed in Tigray region hence difficult to see how peace will come.
That changed quickly. To the surprise of many around the world, when President Isaias Afwerki swiftly accepted Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s call for peace and received him in Asmara and immediately thereafter, President Isais reciprocated by going to Ethiopia; that opened a new chapter of relations between the two countries. That marked the end of TPLF’s abstractions.
There are those who believe the changes that took place in Ethiopia, the rapprochement with Eritrea and developments in the region to be the result of Abiy’s efforts when a lot of work was done ahead of the change. Abiy Ahmed himself is the byproduct of the work. Eritrea always wanted peace with Ethiopia and stability in the region. Contrary to what the TPLF sold, that Eritrea wants to break up Ethiopia, Eritrea wants stable Ethiopia.
If Eritrea’s goal were the balkanization of Ethiopia, working with TPLF would have been easier. Instead, Eritrea invested on the people of Ethiopia financially, politically, diplomatically and militarily. Eritrea provided home to all those who thought justice and fought to bring change. Eritrea gave all Ethiopian groups room and opportunity to chart directions of their choosing based on their political inclinations knowing, one-day, they will become players in the future of Ethiopia. For this selfless act Eritrea paid dearly.
TPLF, designated these groups and individuals’ terrorists and tried to label Eritrea a country that harbors terrorists.
Eritrea never had and will never encounter enemy as determined and as vicious as Tigrai People’s Liberation Front. TPLF is the deadliest enemy Eritrea faced because its determination and willingness to do anything. To avoid listing the litany of crimes and human rights violations against the people of Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia and the region; we can simply say TPLF can give Hitler a run for his money. Had TPLF gotten the opportunity, it was capable to commit crimes far worse than that of Hitler’s Nazi.
The people of Eritrea are now exonerated. Eritrea took a principled stand to stand with the people of Ethiopia who ultimately humiliated TPLF and chased it back to Dedebit tails between legs, leaving everything behind in shock. TPLF entered Addis Ababa escorted by Eritrean People’s Liberation Front tanks and was easily chased out of Addis by Ethiopian youth armed with stones.
The people of Eritrea and Ethiopia went through decades of conflicts that helped cement negative views about each other. To separate the people of Eritrea and Ethiopia TPLF made it point to seed and foment hate in schools and every way they can but failed.
At the end, the people showed TPLF that they are capable to overcome evil and start anew. The warm reception Eritreans accorded PM Abiy Ahmed and in return the warm reception President Isaias received in Ethiopia opened a new chapter of history between the two people.
Since, all the opposition groups that spent years struggling the brutal repressive TPLF regime from Eritrea are back in Ethiopia working with PM Abiy to strengthen the fragile transition taking place in Ethiopia. That is a major victory for Eritrea.
Eritrea is victorious on so many levels. Until 2005, many Ethiopians had eschewed view and used to see Eritrea as enemy that wants to see instability by creating division amongst Ethiopians and believed Eritrea wanted to take advantage of Ethiopia. Rather than focusing on their issues, many focused-on Eritrea wrongly until they woke-up and understood TPLF and its evil agendas. Eritrea was in a way the whipping boy.
It is major victory for Eritreans to see their nation seen as example by Ethiopians and people of the region as country that lives by paying for tomorrow, by making sacrifices, in cooperation with one another, by self-reliance, without foreign meddling for collective good. These are stands Eritreans live-by. The people of the Horn of Africa have witnessed Eritreans suffer and sacrifice collectively to ultimately overcame all the adversities and became victorious.
For a long time, Eritreans were trying to reach-out and met stiff resistance. Today, Ethiopians, and the people of the region know what Eritrea stands for and her capability. They know Eritrea is a friend that means no harm because, in the darkest moments of Ethiopia, when every country in the region sided with TPLF, Eritrea was the only nation that stood by the people of Ethiopia
Leaving Behind Trails of Losers
Eritrea faced interesting mix of adversaries that operate as opposition. Concurrently they acted as human rights activists, refugees, victim-advocates, religious rights activists and NGO’s centered on Eritrean issues. They have made cottage industry out of human rights, refugee, freedom of press and related issues in the name of Eritrea.
The regime change agenda US, EU and TPLF pursued against Eritrea created opportunities for anyone who claimed to have a cause. They recruited, incentivized and encouraged Eritreans, foreign NGO’s, activists and Tigrayans in the name of Eritreans to dissent, campaign and lobby anyway they can. Funded and propped by TPLF and its handlers, anyone can establish websites, radio and satellite TV stations to reaching Eritreans.
These individuals have enriched themselves as authorities and experts. They were given access to in UN and Geneva to set Eritrean agendas, create narratives to be used by international and regional organizations such as the UN Human Rights Commission. They were emboldened to believe that they can vilify, harass, intimidate and get physical with Eritreans that stood with their government and people against the minority regime in Ethiopia and injustices of the West.
With stroke of a pen, by an agreement between Eritrea and Ethiopia, all that ended. Ethiopia closed the offices and stopped supporting all the anti-Eritrea elements that operated out of Ethiopia. These include, religious extremists, disgruntled individuals that held high level positions in Eritrea, individuals with power-ambitions and armed-organizations created and funded by the TPLF. For example, as soon as PM Abiy Ahmed announced peace with Eritrea, the Afar armed movement TPLF run immediately retreated to Tigray because they realized they have no cover.
Now, most of these people are ashamed and in hiding unable to show themselves publicly. Their funding, and support is drying because there is no regime change agenda anymore. The US, EU and their organizations are working to mend relations with Eritrea. The visible few are desperate and starved for attention from anyone. Their voices are louder and their tactics, (lies, deception and misinformation) are brazen and changing with every news cycle. They are bankrupt in principle.
When PM Abiy made the call for peace, they said, “President Isaias will not accept peace because he is using the conflict with Ethiopia to control Eritreans.” After he accepted it, they said, “He is selling Eritrea and uniting it with Ethiopia.” It is amusing to witness their daily flip flap and duplicity.
These groups and individuals were working with TPLF on an agenda that tried to undermine the government Eritrea. The TPLF called for people to people relations between the people of Tigray and Eritrea to usurp the government which ultimately was designed to undermine Eritrean sovereignty. But when Eritrea gave Ethiopians free access to enter Eritrea after the peace agreement, they cried foul claiming Isaias is selling Eritrea. And on and so forth. Their stories change day by day. These is done to cast doubt on the peace process and create a wedge between the people and government of Eritrea. That is over now.
Eritrea Victorious Once Again
What is success, victory for the people of Eritrea? The people of Eritrea have made heavy sacrifices to earn opportunity to live in peace and build nation worthy of the lives that were lost to bring a free nation. They know, to build a nation worthy of the sacrifices made by our martyrs, they must all play their due role. For 20 years, with blood, sweat, money, time and hard work Eritreans ensured sovereignty in ways no African country ever did. The achievements are numerous and layered.
For the first time in the history of Africa, Eritrea and Ethiopia have a border agreement that was agreed to and signed by two African countries! Hence, it is no longer colonial boundary.
Since the end of World War II, the United States eyed and tried to control Eritrea using Ethiopia. For brief period the Soviet Union tried that as well. The US used unlimited resources, might, international influence and brains to achieve that.
US’s number one weapon of choice was Ethiopian leaders. The US used Ethiopia to pursue military and other adventures against Eritrea. Eritrea was forced to deal with combination of US and Ethiopia with their unlimited access and influence in the African Union (AU), Arab League, Israel and other regional actors; US position at the UN Security Council; control of the global financial and trade networks; control of the massive mass-media, influence and control of aid organizations, Human Rights groups; partnerships, and collaborations between US and its European partners. Brilliant Eritrea overcame by controlling the situation with Ethiopia.
TPLF’s grand scheme entirely depended on winning against Eritrea, controlling the Red Sea and by extension to control a Balkanized-weakened Ethiopia and region.
Due to its strong standing with the US and EU, the minority TPLF regime was emboldened, overconfident and felt-invincible. TPLF felt, war on terror-card will work forever. Exploiting US interests in Ethiopia and the region, the TPLF diverted funds meant to Ethiopia to Tigray to private coffers of the party and individuals in the party. Indirectly, the US, was funding TPLF’s aspirations of independent greater-Tigray expansionist agenda. These emboldened some who started to see Tigray as independent country.
Eritrea managed to withstand all aggression TPLF can master and gradually exposed it for the world and Ethiopia to see. Ethiopians sided with Eritrea and defeated TPLF.
The last twenty years proved there is nothing worse than a neighbor who wants to destroy you. The people of Tigray know who Eritrean people are, how they live and conduct their affairs. They used these knowledges against Eritrea and in collaboration with US and Western powers aimed to destroy it. There is no sugar coating this historic fact! In twenty years, Eritrea managed, against all odds, one more time to fight and retain independence. Here are some of the challenges Eritrea endured:
Deadly Wars from 1998-2000. More than 20,000 Eritrean youth perished.
Deportation of 80,000 Eritreans by Tigray People’s Liberation Front from Ethiopia.
Hundreds of thousands internally displaced from Eritrea’s most fertile agricultural land.
Diplomatic hurdles designed to weaken Eritrea’s hands before Algiers agreement.
Attempted to alienate Eritrea
After signing Algiers Agreement, machinations to undermine the agreement.
Tried to undermine sovereignty of Eritrea UN peacekeeping mission.
Initiated No war no peace to keep Eritrea on a sustained state of conflict to weaken Eritrea economically, militarily, to undermine resolve, to frustrate the youth.
Deliberate mechanisms to entice youth to flee and fleece the nation of her youth. Youth that fled were in turn used to vilify, demonize the government, and the national service to justify punitive measures.
Persistent coordinated effort by western intelligence operatives that operate as NGO’s to undermine Eritrea history, resolve, image, nationalism and sovereignty. They used all global institutions at their disposal to bring Eritrea to her knees. This include the Human Rights Commission at the UN.
Coordinated media campaigns by Western agents that operate as journalists and cut-and-paste journalists all over the world. Extreme debilitating sanctions designed to undermine Eritrea was thought and enacted, shutting down the economy, banking and, placed arms embargo. The arms embargo was used to stop all shipments for unnecessary search holding shipments for months at a time.
TPLF hired, funded operatives all over the world. The TPLF hired countless lobbyists, Public Relations firms, individuals in key positions all over the world to influence policies that could help undermine Eritrean independence.
TPLF hired and funded Eritreans to operate as opposition inside Ethiopia and in the Diaspora.
TPLF stole identities of Eritrean refugees in Ethiopia and used it to send Tigrayans to Europe and the US as Eritreans.
In coordination with some Tigrayans born and raised in Eritrea during Ethiopia’s occupation of Eritrea, these Tigrayans acted as Eritrean opposition and worked hard to sally the image and history.
Long standing US Eritrea policy. Eritrea under control of Ethiopia.
The list is endless. Eritrea overcame. Here is how:
1998-2000, Eritrea managed to repulse hundreds of thousands Ethiopian soldiers that aimed to reverse Eritrean independence at best or, take Assab by force.
After 20 years, Ethiopia accepted The Algiers agreement and peace is won.
Embraced 80,000 forcibly deported Eritreans and resettled them in Eritrea.
Resettled hundreds of thousands of Eritreans. By building dams and expanding agricultural farm-lands to sustain Eritrea’s bright future.
Eritreans remember US official who went to Badme the disputed land Eritrea won in arbitration and, echoed TPLF’s talking point, “We can’t divide churches,” to demarcate borders to undermine the agreement. US officials on board.
UN peacekeeping mission was systemically shut down for overstaying its mandate and for serving as intelligence gathering tool.
No war no peace agenda is dead and buried with TPLF in Tigray. In a humiliating fashion, TPLF made Tigrayans from villages in the border area with Eritrea to cross the border waving white-flags and plea their desire for peace with Eritreans.
The TPLF enticed Eritrean youth to flee so they can pick-up arms to fight against the government. That didn’t materialize. All the youth wanted to do is help their families.
Foiled all attempts to alienate Eritrea.
All campaigns by international NGO’s, mainstream media are being exposed daily.
The illegal sanctions are lifted.
US longstanding policy against Eritrea changed to bilateral relations
Eritrea patiently and methodically dismembered all hostilities and started a new chapter. Geopolitically, Eritrea is the epicenter of the region. Eritrea’s geopolitical importance is cemented as indispensable. Saudi Arabia, Israel, UAE, Egypt, Ethiopia, South Sudan, Somalia and Kenya see no stability or progress without Eritrea’s engagement. Sudan is trying to mend past mistakes. Europe is clamoring to enter Eritrea.
The United States changed its long-standing Eritrea policy as part of new Africa strategy and announced it will strengthen bilateral relations with countries of importance which include Eritrea.
While under duress, under unbearable external pressures; Eritrea laid foundation that ensure food security, laid platforms that ensure infrastructures for the future of Eritrean roads and railways.
Eritrea partnered with mining companies that believe on mutually beneficial approaches centered on educating Eritreans to develop indigenous expertise and ensure sustainability.
Eritrea managed to change extreme existential threats to long term opportunities that ensure viability and sustainability of her programs. Eritrea managed to change the mindset of many in the region, the world . Eritrea is an example of resistance based on just and self-reliant approaches. Eritrean ways are worth emulating because they are guaranteed to help foster regional partnerships and cooperation to ensure bright future for the region. Once slated for alienation, Eritrea is integral part of the future in the region.
After TPLF ignited wars, General Sibhat Efrem once remarked,
“Our difficult challenges are behind us. For Eritrea, the most difficult challenge was to build our home. Once we built our home (referring to Eritrea’s independence), no one can tell us how to decorate it and run it. It is all up-to us. No matter what others say or do, it matters none because they have no right and there is nothing, they can do about it. Because we control our fate, destiny.”
In 20 years Eritreans achieved unprecedented achievements. Everything, all the money resources spent (in the billions), the machinations, wars, psychological warfare, economic strangulations, propaganda, vilifications campaigns and distortions applied against Eritrea were designed to do one thing; undermine the resolve of Eritrean people. The people of Eritrea foiled it.
Now, it is time to turn the house into home unperturbed, unfazed, victorious and once again saying Awet N Hafash, victory to the masses while remembering why it is important to give our-all and work to achieve the highest standard of living based on high standards because that is the only way we can repay their debts and honor them.
Glory to our Martyrs
In Commemoration of the 29th Anniversary of Operation Fenkil
For twenty years, Eritreans in the diaspora have been forced to focus on the situation in Eritrea. Every day that went-by was a struggle as the situation in Eritrea was tough to say the least. Eritreans were inundated with news that made them feel uneasy.
As a result, Eritrean community was focusing on helping their country anyway they can. In the process, overlooked were the lives, the stories, achievements and businesses of Eritreans all over.
Eritreans are industrious, technical and brilliant entrepreneurs that have been able to adopt and strive everywhere they went. That story is yet to be told.
One such story is Abraham Melles’s who came to the US in 1998 from Eritrea and quickly established as one of the promising entrepreneurs that achieved many successes in relatively short period of time.
Most of the people that know his early business ventures know Enjera Restaurant in Metropolitan Washington DC, in Crystal City, Arlington, Virginia.
Abraham opened Enjera restaurant as Eritrean cuisine against the advice of many who wanted him to promote it as Ethiopian but insisted to promote Enjera restaurant as Eritrean cuisine and did very well until he sold it for profit and moved on to other ventures.
Abraham has a good eye for business. A year after he came to the US and settled in Virginia he founded Crystal Parking, a Virginia-based parking services company. Crystal Parking has been operating for 18 years as parking management for businesses, special events, valet parking, transportation and temporary staffing company successfully. Abraham Melles has employed thousands, many of whom are Eritreans. These are Eritreans with little or no experience being acclimated to life in the US.
His latest ventures caught my attention because, this time Abraham is hoping to create opportunities in Eritrea and in the US simultaneously.
Abraham recently opened Star Hotel, a 28-room boutique hotel in Asmara, Eritrea and, in August of 2018, Abraham opened Delina Eritrean Urban Kitchen, 50-seat tapas-style restaurant that serves Eritrean cuisine in Bethesda, Maryland, 20 minutes outside DC, that he named after his 10-year-old daughter.
Abraham is always thinking about growing his business ventures while embracing his community, providing employment and business opportunity for all. In fact, in the very near future, Delina Kitchen will open a restaurant in Arlington, Virginia.
Delina Kitchen is very appealing because it is modern, hip and designed to expand beyond the Metro DC area and all over the country if not the world. Abraham Melles is one such person that could accomplish that.
The food is healthy and fresh prepared every day. It is a well executed concept that has been received very well by Bethesda community.
Delina Restaurant is serving an area that is home to Marriott Headquarters, National Institute of Health (NIH) and other major multi-national organizations. Delina creatively engages the community by providing healthy fun positive environment. They also have Jazz music on Thursdays.
Abraham Melles is an inspiration, he is part of the Eritrean Diaspora story that we must all tell from now on.
By Amanuel Biedemariam, Repost from October, 2011.
On a recent interview with ESAT, the Founder and President of Genocide Watch, Dr. Gregory Stanton stressed that Ethiopia is high on the list of countries of Genocide Watch. The reasons Dr. Stanton outlined are alarming; however true, yet, an opportunity for Ethiopians and other peace loving people to try to stop it from taking place. This is not the first time Dr. Stanton raised alarm publicly. However, this time, Dr. Stanton detailed the reasons why; as well as how and, what could trigger genocide in Ethiopia and specifically Tigray region.
Dr. Stanton comes with sizeable resume and expertise in genocide related matters because he has been closely associated with the formulation of the legal language and UN resolutions that govern the international standards and laws. He has dedicated great deal of time to understand the triggers, the damages, consequences, ramifications and preventive mechanisms.
Dr. Stanton said the reason he started Genocide Watch is that, after The Rwanda Genocide he came to the realization that there is need for watchdog group that specifically focused on genocide. And, that is the reason why he founded the organization.
While it is difficult to trust West- based organizations that claim to do good; I found Dr. Stanton’s reasoning compelling and his observation about the issues in Ethiopia spot-on. Dr. Stanton highlighted the stages or indicators that point to the likelihood of genocidal events in a given region and in this case Ethiopia, specifically Tigray.
One of the common factors in these countries is often, minority regimes ruling ethnically based administrations. Dr. Stanton said,
“Tigrayan minority that created its own colonies within the country rules Ethiopia.”
He further noted that the minority Tigrayan regime has created animosities and mistrust amongst the various ethnic groups in Ethiopia in order to divide and rule. In these circumstances a feeling of ”us-against-them” and resentment arises with deadly consequences. And there is always a nickname associated used to demonize the minority group as in Rwanda.
In Ethiopia, the minority Tigrayan regime has committed countless crimes against humanity in the Ogaden, the Gambella and other places. There has been a major forced uprooting of large populations to accommodate multinational organizations not to mention the ethnic cleansing of over eighty thousand Eritreans from Ethiopia from 1998-2000.
That is why Dr. Stanton was compelled to warn the world; ultimately, the people of Tigray will end up paying the price for the crimes the genocides Meles regime. He stated,
“My job is to identify trends that could cause genocides and what I am witnessing in Ethiopia is a great deal of concern for the people of Tigray because the regime is committing these crimes on their names.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gpoOJZ2nU1Q
Here we go…, if an Ethiopian or Eritrean makes these remarks a Tigrayan is likely to brush it off as exaggeration. But what Dr. Stanton’s attempt to expose the minority Tigrayan genocidal regime does is, give weight to the subject and raise the ante. It gives it credibility. In a recent interview with ESAT, American Professor Theodore Vestal echoed similar concerns.
What is taking place in Ethiopia is real and not difficult to see the direction. All good things come to an end and the good time the genocidal TPLF clique enjoyed at the expense of Ethiopia and the regime is coming to end sooner than later. The regime, thinking that it will be the ultimate ruler in the region played a zero sum game with every country and ethnic group in the region. It committed genocides in the Ogaden and Gambella. It is dismembering the region by giving major land-away free; in Somalia, it has created a holocaust etc…
SIGNS OF A DYING REGIME
All of what the minority genocidal regime has done is ending. In 2006, Meles Zenawi waived the Holy Bible to invade an Islamic nation and failed leaving bloody trails. Now the Kenyans have taken that dubious honor to the dismay of the Transitional Government of Somalia. This clearly is a sign that the mercenary clique has failed to do the job and replaced by Kenya.
After the war between Eritrea and Ethiopia started, the minority regime established alliances with Omar Al Bashir of Sudan and Abdallah Sallah of Yemen to isolate and entrap Eritrea. Ten years removed, The Sallah regime is on life support and Sudan has distanced itself from Meles and strengthened her alliance with Eritrea. This is significant because there were major events that changed the dynamics of the frail Sudanese Ethiopian alliance for good.
Firstly, Sudan split into two. Secondly, the WikiLeaks revelation that Meles wanted Bashir gone is a certain dagger into the relationship and importantly, the TPLF clique is prone to pursue US interests at the expense of Ethiopia. While the minority regime has tried to show a positive face with Sudan, in a departure from the regular positive spins, the mouthpiece of TPLF Aigaforum website posted a critical article about Sudan while President Isaias Afwerki was in Sudan on a state visit.
All one has to do is understand what Sudan means to Tigray. The city of Kassala in Sudan is 182 km from the city of Humera Tigray [aka Beghemder]. Sudan is a lifeline to Tigray because Tigray is a landlocked province. Most of the goods that come into Tigray including oil come from Sudan. If Sudan closes borders with Tigray, there will be a drastic change in the economic realities of Tigray. For long, the genocidal Meles was able to play the ICC card against President Beshir but now the political dynamics have changed after the independence of South Sudan.
Furthermore, Eritrea is deeply entrenched in Sudan. In fact, during the opening ceremonies of a new highway between Eritrea and Sudan President Beshir said,
“I want no border between Eritrea and Sudan.”
This is significant because it means the interest of Sudan and Eritrea are in sink economically, politically, culturally and security wise. This clearly highlights the influence Meles lacks with his immediate neighbors. The only lifeline the genocidal regime has is Djibouti. In other words, he is alienated and, what he conspired against Eritrea turned on him.
The realities inside Ethiopia are not different. Meles Zenawi and his clique have no support of the Ethiopian people. The majority of Ethiopians in the 2005 election rejected them. And the crimes Meles committed in various Ethiopian regions is public record.
THE ALARM OF GENOCIDE
That being the case, what could push Ethiopia over the edge and create a scenario that could dismember the nation and create chaos? What could trigger a situation that makes a specific group of Ethiopians, in this case Tigray a target for mass killing? Why Tigray? Is there a truth behind Dr. Stanton’s alarm about genocide?
To say Ethiopia loathes the TPLF and Meles Zenawi is understatement. Hence, is there truth to the fact that Tigrayans will ultimately pay for the crimes Meles is committing in their name?
While there are many Tigrayans that say Meles does not represent Tigray; the reality is the main supporters of Meles are from Tigray. On the other hand, one of the main threats to his regime is Tigray based Tigray People Democratic Movement (TPDM), movement that is creating problems from within and gaining momentum with tens of thousands in the force already.
This shows that the people Tigray, at least a sizeable portion are, opposed to Meles Zenawi’s rule. However, a perception exists that Tigrayans are the ones perpetrating the oppression that is taking place in Ethiopia.
In 1998, Meles and his clique forced over 80,000 Eritreans out of their homes. What is interesting was that the majority of Ethiopians were opposed to this. They hated seeing their neighbors, their friends, friends of their sons and daughters, people they grew up and grew old with; old, young and people that knew little or nothing about Eritrea forced out of their homes and ethnic cleansed.
This is a precedent Meles Zenawi set, unheard-of before and breaking the fabric of a long-standing relationship between both peoples. Therefore, is it likely, when the opportunity arises for Ethiopians to say, “What is good for the goose is good for the gander” and repeat history and kick Tigrayans out of Ethiopia.
In 2003, a report that detailed the atrocities the minority clique committed in Gambella became public and it compelled Dr. Stanton to state,
“That the crimes fit the definitions of genocide and crimes against humanity.”
Human Rights Watch also conducted two investigations of their own and determined that the crimes against the Anuaks meet the stringent definition of crimes against humanity. This does not include the forced eviction of thousands of Anuak Ethiopians from their homes, villages and farmlands to accommodate Indian and other multinational corporations. Hence, if Anuaks have the opportunity, will they lash out?
The most Brutal atrocities by Meles and his clique are taking place in the Ogaden. Major humanitarian organizations have provided detailed account of the atrocities the genocidal clique is committing in the Ogaden. Horrid pictures of tortured and raped women; torched village after village; reports of systemic alienation and denial of humanitarian aid to millions of Ogadeni’s over a sustained period with irrefutable-evidences are abundant. Thousands have perished while millions remain disconnected from the outside world, deliberately. The international community has been-denied access to the area. In fact, two Swedish reporters are in jail captured by the minority clique while trying to report about the plight of the people of Ogaden. The list could go on…, but the question is there a repercussion? And who will pay?
What the minority clique is doing to the people Somalia is a historic crime that will reverberate for generations. It is the highest crime of humanity like the holocaust and the crimes of the Ottoman Empire on the Armenian people. What makes it more ironic is that the people of Somalia were not posing any threat to Tigray or TPLF; they were not in a position, did not have the capacity or, the ability to harm Ethipia.
The TPLF minority clique invaded a sovereign nation at the behest of Westerners and committed genocides needlessly. Unfortunately, the regime is still at-it exploiting the people of Somalia for political, monetary and military advantages from the West. TPLF is using the plight of the poor women and children as apolitical theater while squandering precious moments for the people Somalia. Will they have their day?
The people of Oromia didn’t fare better either. The first target of the minority clique was Oromia. The people of Oromo have suffered the most in the hands of TPLF. Any resistance against the clique meets brute force. Thousands of students have perished, beaten and jailed in high schools and colleges for showing a sign of opposition. Siye Abraha, member of the TPLF said that the jails are full of Oromo people. A fight with Tigrayan students in colleges is a reason for serious punishments. This is because Oromia poses the greatest threat since the Oromo represent the highest percentage of Ethiopia’s population and if they rise, it will end the regime’s reign.
Whilst the minority clique is-forced to apply an appeasement strategy, the people of Oromo are asserting their position evermore with vigor. And it is certain that they will clash in due time. The list of atrocities is long everywhere in Ethiopia.
These are the realities in Ethiopia today. The situation in Ethiopia is grave and requires urgent intervention. Numerous causalities can lead to calamitous and bloody events in Ethiopia at any time. There are different scenarios under which these events could become reality. However, the clique has ignored all the possibilities with a belief, as long as the international community is with us, the people of Ethiopia and the region does not matter. Hence, catered to the needs of foreign powers and businesses solely at the expense of people in the region.
For example: The regime is in violation of international laws for sitting on Eritrean territories which could trigger a conflict at any time when Eritrea sees it necessary. Furthermore, the Tigrayan minority regime has based its very existence on the destruction of Eritrea. Emboldened by the support it gets from the West, it is feeling invincible which could lead to conflict. Conflicts are opportunities for insurgencies that like to assert their positions forcefully and target their perceived threat, in this case the people of Tigray.
Sudan could close its border with Tigray and deny needed goods creating economic chaos for Tigray. This in turn will force Tigryans to migrate into areas where they may not be welcomed.
Frustration and helplessness of the youth will be rampant and a conflict from within will be deadly. Insurgencies will erupt and create a civil war inside Tigray. This grim assessment is happening as we speak and will gain momentum in a much faster pace if the regime falls. The TPLF has broken all the bridges with Ethiopians. It denied Tigrayans their traditional gateway and business partner in Eritrea isolating the people.
Dr. Gregory Stanton made it clear that Meles Zenawi will face justice for the crimes he is committing all over Ethiopia. There is always a price to be paid and someone is going to pay for all the crimes committed over the last two decades. The question, will that affect the people of Tigray and how? What can the average person do to avert disasters and unnecessary hardships of poor innocent people?
Meles Zenawi is a friend to no one. He is leading a minority clique that does not answer to the Ethiopian people. As he gets desperate, he is doing all he can to stay in power and if he cannot, he has already seeded all the destructive seeds to light the fire and destroy everything so he cannot be brought to justice. This alarm is a call to all.
Since the release of this article in October 2011, a lot of these predictions have materialized. Tigrayans that resided in various parts of Ethiopia have been evicted and forced back to Tigray. The TPLF has been defeated and retreated to Tigray and still exploiting Tigrayans using Tigray as hiding place. The people of Tigray are held hostage denied voice by the TPLF that wields all its force and money. The money they stole from the people of Ethiopia. Ethiopia remains under tremendous pressure, still as a result of the intransigence of the TPLF who is denying the people of Tigray the change. Ultimately things will come to a collusion point unless the people of Tigray collectively say enough and give up TPLF. Otherwise the threat remains real.
Sudan’s relations with TPLF has changed based on interests after the TPLF handed huge chunk of Ethiopian territories to Sudan. Omar Al Bashir has changed numerous times based on his opportunism. One thing for sure, Sudan is no longer in a position to be a factor in saving TPLF.
This article was written in in September, 2011 during President Isaias Afewerki’s visit to New York that galvanized Eritreans from all across the US, Canada and around the world. So much was done to demonize his Excellency then. It failed, they failed and those who rallied against him dropped one by one like Mosquitos-on-zapper, tzss… The people of Eritrea are the backbone of President Isaias and he is the backbone of the people. Most importantly, he is a man of the people, peace and proved as one of the greatest leaders the world has ever seen!
We Are All Isaias Afewerki and He is us Amanuel Biedemariam
There is a Facebook group, which I belong to, ”We Are All Isaias Afewerki”. From the start, there were discussions about why we are all Isaias Afewerki? The answers were all the same worded and presented differently.
We are, because he is the embodiment of what Eritrea is all about. We are because he is and has been the face of Eritrea past, present and has set a precedent for the future. We are, because he is what Eritrea is all about; grit, determination, perseverance, commitment and he is a finisher. We are because he is like every one of us; humble and determined to leave within his means while focusing on the future sacrificing a great deal. We are because of his commitment to honor the martyrs by building a nation worthy of their sacrifices and, the list could go on…
One of the most important foundations to life is thankfulness to God/Allah for the small blessing. It is only then that the blessings multiply and recognizing those small blessings is a blessing in itself.
Eritrea was dealt many disadvantages. However, those disadvantages that we were dealt-with turned out to be blessing. For example the fact that Eritrea was denied independence when all African countries were handed their “freedom” turned out to be a major blessing. It gave Eritrea the opportunity and time to see the entrapments that are laid-out ahead in plain day light. Eritrea learned from them. There is a saying in Tigrigniya, “let him give you an example and not make you one.” Eritrea was lucky to have-had examples of how not to be. Eritrea needed direction on how to chart directions away from the failing of the others that regressed for many reasons including corruption with few on the top echelon sucking the foundations-away from the people to ruins. These indiscretions are rampant around the world particularly Africa.
The struggle for the independence of Eritrea was a blessing in a sense because it became a struggle for freedom not only from the chains of colonialism but also from the mental slavery that the west placed upon Africans.
The struggle gave Eritrea a space to deal with the political upheavals Eritrea faced during the first half of the struggle that could have undone the revolution. The ethnic, religious and regional divisions the Eritrean revolution inherited was paralyzing. These divisions and differences led to a civil war that lasted for years frustrating many that wanted to see Eritrea focus on the enemies. The infighting triggered massive exodus of Eritreans into Sudan and other places around the globe.
Eritrea also had nothing in terms of organizational structures, resources and support to start the struggle. There was no standing organized army. The tasks at hand seemed impossible or insurmountable, and the odds were stacked against Eritrea. The possibilities that Eritrea could eject Ethiopia a country backed by US, Israel and the USSR was almost unthinkable to the world. Then as now Ethiopia received massive military, political, financial, diplomatic and other assistances at the expense of Eritrea.
What Eritrea had were determined people that want independence, peace and life of their choosing. Eritrea had people willing to work hard, to sacrifice and pay all that they have in life that is necessary for freedom. Eritrea had people that are willing to endure the rigors, hardships and pain necessary for victory. Eritrea is blessed by people that want to chart their own course using uncharted ways and strategies.
It was miraculous because what Eritreans carried was a stick compared to the tanks that they fought against. One can easily say that Eritrea had only sling-shots to throw stones to fight war planes. That was all they had. Eritreans used ingenuity and illusiveness to elude the enemy and fought against organized armies with rifles.
In the process Eritreans learned to scavenge/rip-off the enemy’s arms and used it against them effectively. For the first time in the history of Africa, a well-trained and armed army was outmaneuvered by rebels armed with determination, brilliance and will.
At the end, Eritreans armed themselves with armaments they took away from enemy soldiers that they killed and captured in battle and used it to build a national army.
Eritreans fought Ethiopia and the superpowers with everything they had. They fought Ethiopian soldiers and intelligence from within Ethiopian-held cities and territories risking their lives. They fought the fight for freedom from every corner around the globe. They were resourceful, brilliant and dedicated.
That became yet another blessing that benefited independent Eritrea. It created a network of organized Eritreans in every corner of the world. The traditions and values that were established then are serving Eritrea in this challenging world in ways unseen anywhere. It is saving Eritrea from many threats that are threatening to wipe clean the history of the martyrs and to undo the hard won independence.
Central to these struggles was a group of Eritrean women and men that are farsighted, brilliant, dedicated, imaginative and fearless. They were humble, down-to-earth and cognizant on the fact that Eritrea’s number one asset is her people. They lead the struggle with a realistic approach to life grounded around established traditional, ethical, religious and cultural values.
They exploited those values and harnessed a work ethic that became a way of life in Eritrea. That work ethic was designed to empower the people and free Eritrea from handouts. They taught Eritrea only collective efforts can yield desired outcome, victory.
They supported their aim with a slogan that reflects the true nature of Eritrea, “Victory to the Masses.”
They trekked the hard unpaved roads of Eritrea believing, “Our struggle is long and VICTORY certain.” They trekked unfazed by distractions meant to derail the struggle.
They ignored the noises then as now saying, “let the DOGS bark as the camel strides.” And they arrived. They arrived into a new nation victorious led by Bitsay, Tegadalay, His Excellency President Isaias Afwerki.
As a new nation, Eritrea required her leaders to meet certain requirements. The leader needed to be strong, visionary, committed, selfless and experienced. It required a strong character with unshakeable faith on the people of Eritrea. It required incorruptible character that will not sell the people as they do all over Africa. It required someone with a military-like discipline, with a work ethic, unfazed by the glitziest and glamour. It required someone that knows the people of Eritrea and has personal attachments, understanding, compassion and genuine affection. It required someone that understands the anguishes, hardship and painful struggles that Eritreans endured to get her.
Eritreans needed someone who knows their homes and families; someone who is like them. Above all, they wanted someone that will honor their sons, daughters, mothers and fathers that perished. They needed someone that can carry the mantle in their honor everywhere.
What makes for a great partnership between a country and leadership and make everything work even when things look bleak and at their worst is that all Eritreans assume their roles effectively. Every Eritrean plays his or her part. That is what brought independence, what saves Eritrea during hardships and enable it to persevere. Eritrea does not need a ruler. Eritrea needs someone that can be a captain of the Eritrean ship in uncharted waters.
In that regard Eritrea is blessed by a unique leader that the world has ever seen. His Excellency President Isaias Afewerki is one of the greatest gifts Eritrea is blessed with. It is not common in Eritrea to praise a leader. Eritreans are squeamish since all have contributed mightily and equally. It is understandable because there are those that have given their life, their entire families, and limbs. Eritreans have lost their near and dear to worship anyone.
President Isaias met all the requirements that Eritrea required and more. He is the source of strength, unity, the voice, the parental figure, the brother and warrior in trenches. He is the guide that points Eritrea in the right direction. He led the mothers in a distant field toward the water that can quench the thirst of child. He is a farmer roaming throughout the entire country greening the land wherever he goes. He is the teacher that believes all kids deserve and must have the same opportunities to learn. He wants all Eritrean kids to thrive in life and in the process lift Eritrea to the highest of standards. He is the friend of the doctor that saw a nation’s health as a national imperative and built medical schools and facilities throughout Eritrea. He is a man that knows military strategy, intelligence, security and geopolitics. He is the man that spearheaded one of the strongest armies in the world and created a national service program to ensure perpetuity.
In the last 50 years Eritrea achieved miracles with brilliance of Eritrea’s leaders and a leader. When the history of the world looks back on this era and particularly relative to African nations, Eritrean leaders led by His Excellency will be looked at as the greatest role models. Their commitment to freedom and will to build a nation by relying on itself is unmatched. What is even mind-boggling is the simplicity of the formulas they employed.
It is a formula that just focused on the masses. It is formula that taught to be aware, organize and get armed, for life.
In life, the average person is limited to certain accomplishments mainly personal. Eritrea’s leaders have done wonders. And President Isaias epitomizes the best of them. He is selfless, focused, brilliant and a true Eritrean who made Eritrea, his life’s work. He lives Eritrea. Eritrea is his mission, his way of life and life. He has dedicated his life to Eritrea.
That commitment is the reason why he was able to oversee Eritrea transform through critical stages that propelled Eritrea into the world stage that we are witnessing today. He saw the beginning and lived the transformation. He experienced all the ups and downs of the Eritrean revolution from atop. He lived through the hardships to see the independence of Eritrea by defeating enemies. He directed the overthrowing of the Derg regime and facilitated a regime change. He ushered Eritrea into a new Era of independence through the referendum and produced the signature that engraved Eritrea at the United Nations.
Soon after independence, Eritrea was challenged as a nation militarily, politically, economically and in every conceivable way by enemies that wanted to reverse a hard won independence. His Excellency again guided the nation with strength, and showed Eritrea the way-out onto a new platform.
The simplest way to describe it will be to liken it to a nuclear submarine navigating through the darkest and most hostile of deep waters under extreme pressures. The President has guided Eritrea through the deep waters into freedom.
To say we are living in the most hostile part of the world is understatement. All one has to do is think of Djibouti, Yemen, Somalia, Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia and think about the internal strife in these nations. Think about the geopolitical interests of the superpowers that want to destroy any semblance of nationalistic attitudes anywhere in the region. Think about the greedy that want to exploit our riches at the expense of the people. Yet, only Eritreans are truly enjoying their nation in its truest of form as one communally in unison with President Isaias in observance.
Not to say that Eritrea is unaffected but relative to the raging fire and destitution plaguing the region, Eritrea is peaceful because of leaders that bought Eritrea time and anchored the people in united purposes. That is the hard truth that the enemies are finding hard to swallow and forced to accept.
In an effort to subjugate Eritrea and make the people of Eritrea kneel and bow; with the idea, if you cut the head the body will fall; the enemies of Eritrea waged major demonizing campaigns against His Excellency President Isaias Afewerki and wanted to the takeaway the president from the people. President Isaias is Eritrean. He is part of people. Because, Eritrea is succeeding today due to the hard work of the people led by his excellency. I am, and we are Isaias Afewerki because we all stand for one common purpose, Eritrea.
Hence, His Excellency President Isaias is Eritrean representing Eritrea, his people. And the people are saying yes! Eritreans are flocking to New York from Europe, Canada, and West coast and all over US to show him support. They are flocking in busses, planes and cars spending thousands to say “We are All Isaias Afewerki. He is us, we are him and we are Eritrea and, nothing can change that”!
Peace is not lottery price that you win by gambling. Peace is not something we can buy or barter to get. Peace is not something that is handed as gift. Peace is a decision, a commitment for tranquil, quiet life free from disturbance. Peace is a decision a commitment to life-free from hostilities, wars and violence.
Eritrea suffered mightily due to the unwarranted Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) aggression that held peace hostage for twenty years. The people of Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, development agendas of Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and the African Union were artificially suppressed from conducting regular activities for lack of peace.
The Horn of Africa was in suspense unable to conduct normal business because the TPLF hampered movement of people, goods and services. Trade was halted in the entire region because the minority TPLF regime decided to play zero-sum game to defeat Eritrea by all means.
What did Eritrea try to achieve and achieved with the peace deal?
The number one achievement of the agreement is “wining peace” with Ethiopia! Because peace is catalyst to development, prosperity and stability. Without peace nothing is possible. Peace requires confidence, trust and willingness. Prime Minister Dr. Abiy Ahmed’s call for peace with Eritrea was the right call and the response by President Isais Afewerki shows that Eritrea was waiting for the right partner. The response was swift.
To move forward with the agenda of peace and normalization however, clearing hurdles to peace was crucial. Because for peace to take hold, the implementation of the Border agreement must take center stage.
By signing the agreement, the government of Ethiopia agreed to the full implementation of the Algiers Agreement. Which means, there is absolutely no border issues with Ethiopia from this point forward. Eritrea and Ethiopia share a long boundary, 1033 Kilometers in length. From now-on none of it is in dispute. That is the second most important stage of the agreement.
By ending the dispute, Eritrea and Ethiopia will free money once squandered to protect the boundaries. Both sides can now use the resources once used for armaments to build a future. That is a major immediate achievement. Not to mention the incredible human resources both countries were forced to commit that will now be freed to help develop new found economic opportunities.
It will free the borders. Hence, traditional border control is all that is needed to enable the natural flow of goods and services. That can and will facilitate cross-border trade and at some-point, natural flow of people across borders for personal reasons.
Because of the tone the leaders set, more than ever, peace between Eritrea and Ethiopia is possible. Prime Minister Dr. Abiy Ahmed’s visit to Eritrea which was immediately reciprocated by President Isaias Afewerki’s historic visit, the reaction of the people on both sides was something that history will revere for a long time because the rapprochement was unlike anything the world has ever seen.
The outburst of affection and desire to leave the hostilities behind and look forward was simply unexpected pleasant surprise. None of us were ready for the good news to take place as fast and the way it came about. The rapprochement that took place between Eritrea and Ethiopia is unlike anything we have seen before because it touches so many issues at one time making transition from hostilities to peace-time a lot easier.
The reasons being: A) Eritrea and Ethiopia have clearly identified the obstacle to peace. B) Both people have said enough and rendered the enemy impotent. C) They were hungry for change from the suffering and acrimony. D) They wanted economic freedom and movement. E) They wanted peace to achieve their goals and aspirations.
And for the first time, the stars were aligned, and everything worked-out including the sentiment of the people.
The sentiment of the people of Eritrea was natural when they expressed unreserved affection during Dr. Abiy Ahmed’s visit of Eritrea. The outburst of emotion by Eritrean people was inspiration to the people of Ethiopia that in turn used what Eritrea did as example and received President Isaias with exceptional level of hospitality.
Eritreans and Ethiopians embraced each other, showed love and expressed peace-gestures similarly and expressed it by the way they welcomed their leaders. It was love-fest between two countries in a manner unseen before.
People were glued to their television sets, internet and smartphones for days on-end to witness these historic events. It was full of suspense and intrigue. The possibility that things can go wrong was in the minds of everyone. But what became immediately clear was that the people of both countries were determined to ensure the success of the visits. People took it upon themselves to protect and safeguard the festivities. It was remarkable historic achievement for both peoples.
The implementation of Algiers Agreement comes with dividends that people in both countries want and for the first time, both leaders are willing to take it upon themselves and took necessary steps to push for normalization.
The third and significant achievement of the rapprochement is the recognition of the Independence of Eritrea by the people of Ethiopia.
The independence of Eritrea in 1991, ushered the fall of Derg and the ascension of the Tigray People’s Liberation front (TPLF) to power in Ethiopia. At the time, and after bloody 17 years of the military rule of Col. Mengistu Hailemariam, the people of Ethiopia were uncertain about the transition that took place. It was unexpected change with unfamiliar leaders.
Shocked and in denial, Ethiopia moved-on for about six years without processing the transition until the TPLF declared war against Eritrea in 1998. After the war started, it was easy to notice the pent-up emotions that was revealed, albeit deliberately stoked by TPLF in pursuit of its interest. The outburst of emotions in the streets of Addis after Badme was infiltrated by Ethiopian troops was evidence to the point.
At the time, the TPLF managed to bring all Ethiopians against Eritrea. The anger expressed then, the call to take Eritrea back and if that fails to take Assab was the bait TPLF used to keep the anti-Eritrea sentiment and campaign alive.
However, not long after the war ended, the people of Ethiopia recognized the brut nature of the TPLF and its evil agendas. Today, it is safe to say, all Ethiopians and Eritrea have identified their true enemy and have united approach on how to deal with it. And it is quite evident, the TPLF is no match for the collective power of the people of Eritrea and Ethiopia! The TPLF is an island, encircled by powerful peace-loving people on both sides. It is ironic, for a long time the TPLF used Eritrea as wedge and to galvanize the Ethiopian people. Today, it is safe to say, the desire to get rid of TPLF gangsters is one key reason the people of Ethiopia and Eritrea came together so quickly.
The twenty-year separation, conflicts and, the no war no peace suspense and the negative impact it brought to the lives of both people was good-enough reason to look for alternative and the alternative is peace.
The people of Ethiopia had twenty years to process the fact Eritrea is a nation independent from Ethiopia. Regardless of what some revisionist tries to inculcate in the minds of the youth and the gullible; Eritrea is independent nation recognized by the United Nations as member nation.
Hence, when Dr. Abiy announced he wanted to make peace with Eritrea and followed through with announcement that Ethiopia will implement fully the Algiers agreement and expressed willingness to normalize relations; the people of Ethiopia embraced it fully without qualifications.
Therefore, implementation of the Algiers Agreement, the call for peace and normalization of relations paved ways for the people of Ethiopia to accept Eritrea as a nation.
That culminated when both countries exchanged leaders for State visits and were both accorded warm welcome. Most significantly, they pushed for normalization quickly and reopened the Embassies.
The flag raising ceremony attended by President Isaias and Dr. Abiy will be remembered as the most significant turning point in the history of both nations. Reopening the embassy is symbolic because it signifies the resumption of relations between the two countries as sovereign entities.
That is a significant achievement only made possible by unwavering commitment and sacrifices the people of Eritrea made to ensure this day happened. To underscore the significance, one must listen carefully to the announcement President Isaias made on July 13, during Sawa graduation ceremony. He said,
“The prevailing situation in Eritrea and Ethiopia is unique in that it represents the renewed freedom for the two countries.”
The battle against the TPLF and its handlers was continuation of the struggle for independence! Nothing more and nothing less. With the agreement: peace was attained, they agreed to end war, implement the Algiers Agreement, resume bilateral relations, cooperate in many areas especially security and will work for regional issues together.
Peace has it dividends. Travel, economic cooperation, developing bilateral relations, people to people relations, cultural, sport and related activities-based relations etc. Partnering on security matters is incredibly important in thwarting threats of any kind. What has been achieving thus fur is remarkable.
There has been some confusion on social media about the agreements and implementation of it. The reality however, the focus should be on the main issues that were at one time barriers to peace.
That is, to ensure that the borders are defined in accordance with the final and binding ruling and the second and most profound point is to ensure the people of Ethiopia recognize Eritrea as a nation, peacefully. Everything else is a plus.
The people of Eritrea have already proved that they can secure and safeguard the sovereignty of the nation. The security agreement ensures further Eritrean rights to deal with the undesirable threats from within Ethiopia if they come up. Like the extremist groups that the TPLF trained for years.
Hence, now that the Ethiopian issue is settled, and normalization is on track, the future is bright. Eritrea’s quest for freedom free from existential threats is achieved. The people of Eritrea have done incredible job establishing infrastructure and mindset ready for the next phase.
It is not complete, but, now that we-are where want to be, it is time to focus on developing the social, political, economic, physical-infrastructure and develop human resources capacity. It is time ensure Eritrea has a transparent governance structure that reflect the needs of the people. For that to happen, we must all play our roles from wherever we are by contributing whatever to ensure a bright future.
Congratulations the people of Eritrea and Ethiopia for peace. Praise to his Excellency President Isaias Afewerki and His Excellency Prime Minister Dr. Abiy Ahmed for charting a new path to peaceful coexistence.
This piece was written on October 8, 2016 to honor Ambassador Girma Asmerom. I am reposting it to honor him in the best way I can because, if there is anyone who deserved to see peace between Eritrea and Ethiopia achieved at the highest level, it is the late Ambassador Girma Asmerom.
Ambassador Girma was the anchor of Eritrean community in the United States. He was the glue that set the tone. He coined the phrase “Tighten your belts. ሽጥ መዓንጣ.”
He faced the Tigrai People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) shenanigans in Ethiopia and challenged all their criminal activities to the day he passed at the UN and as Ambassador.
So, this is my way of saying ,we carried the torch for you. You are with us in spirit. To share the glories by remembering your undying contribution. Because, it’s hard to forget someone who gave so much. You will be remembered and celebrated along with our martyrs.
Ambassador Girma Asmerom Embodiment of Valor and Victory
By Amanuel Biedemariam Ambassador Girma Asmerom’s passing is a great loss for the people of Eritrea. His life was the embodiment of selflessness, bravery, dedication and sacrifices – hallmark of Eritrean grit, stamina and doggedness that propelled the nation to independence against all odds.
Ambassador Girma was there every step of the way to oversee Eritrea transition from arduous struggle for liberation to nationhood. Ambassador Girma wore every hat to accomplish the task of achieving independence and beyond.
After independence Ambassador Girma became a diplomat. Most diplomats of the world are trained career professionals – trained in the art of diplomacy to represent their nation. Eritrean diplomats represent Eritrea in unique ways. Ambassador Girma’s responsibilities as a diplomat was unprecedented and different because he served the people of Eritrea not only as a diplomat but as a representative to the cause they fought for decades to bring to fruition. The independence of Eritrea.
It was a symbiotic relationship between Ambassador Girma who fought for independence and wanted to ensure perpetuity; and Diaspora Eritrea that wanted to retain the hard won independence. Perfect marriage. All he needed to do was lead. And he did.
He led by example. He exemplified leadership in the humblest of ways and with humility that disarmed every one that came in contact with him. He embraced everyone with dignity, grace and made them feel at par with him. He was focused and never relented-once or, deviated from message. He was mister consistent-aware of the task-ahead and pursued it doggedly. He worked hard and he was extremely focused. In the process he ensured that people understood what he was doing and what was going on.
Ambassador Girma’s tasks i.e. assignments fell in the most hostile of environments for Eritreans and Eritrean Diplomats in the world namely Ethiopia and the US. In Ethiopia, Ambassador Girma faced the most disgraceful and barbaric Ethiopian regime that uprooted over 80,000 Eritreans in the most horrific of ways. It was mayhem of the highest order that Eritreans faced. It was ethnic cleansing that will remain seared in the hearts and minds of Eritreans forever and Ambassador Girma was in the middle of it all.
In a manner unseen anywhere, the criminal regime in Ethiopia ransacked Girma’s residence, offices, in complete disregard for international diplomatic-norms and protocol. TPLF violated Eritrea’s diplomatic pouch repeatedly.
This took place in Addis Ababa in the middle of Africa’s diplomatic center. Yet, no one voiced outrage to the outrageous inhuman act perpetrated by the defunct criminal of Tigrian minority regime full of hatred and jealousy toward Eritreans.
A look back at these events provides unique perspective on what Eritreans endured over the last 18 years and the important the role Ambassador Girma played to lift Eritreans and their cause.
Above all, it is a reminder how calmly and eloquently Ambassador Girma managed to capture the essences of the challenges Eritreans faced and how he stirred Eritreans to stand against all the machinations designed to destroy their nation.
After he became Eritrean Ambassador in the US, Eritreans embraced Girma and he became central figure in their lives. He was accessible, and a magnet to all types of Eritreans particularly to those Eritreans that have families forcefully ethnic cleansed out of Ethiopia by the minority Tigrayan regime. He was a source of comfort because he experienced what their families experienced.
Eritrean ambassadorship is a unique responsibility. In Washington DC, no one can point to a single embassy or ambassador that deals with its diaspora communities like Eritrean ambassadors.
As soon as he arrived in DC, Ambassador Girma faced many challenges. The barrage of attacks by international mainstream media that tried to malign and sally Eritrea’s reputation. Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) leadership that is determined to see Eritrea on her knees and the propaganda campaigns it waged to that end. Diplomatic challenges posed by US State Department. Above all and importantly, tending to the needs of his constituency, the people of Eritrea.
Ambassador Girma was a true leader of people. A masterful politician, motivator and diplomat who know what to do, how, when, where and why. He was brilliant, witty and funny in the process. He never took Weyane, or the TPLF which he called “WEYIN” seriously.
He was funny when he addressed TPLF but he was on point. He managed to expose them every step of the way. He challenged them every step and became a thorn on their side. He spoke their language, understood their psyche and tendencies. He was a source of strength to Eritrean Diaspora.
Eritreans are communal people. The life of the people of Eritrea is not individual it is community based. Ambassador Girma understood it well and harnessed the power of the people every step. He conducted regular meetings with the people and communicated the issues effectively. He educated Eritrean Diaspora and showed them where the challenges lay ahead and empowered them. More importantly he showed them how to stand strong “SHE’TT MEAN’TTA” was his favored expression and it means, tighten the belt. Eritreans heeded the message and tightened their belts and marched alone with him as one.
Ambassador Girma anchored the Eritrean community in Diaspora in the most critical time and his legacy will forever reverberate. Ambassador Girma served Eritrea at the UN and other places uniquely and effectively.
His services will be missed. Above all he will be missed. He was towering figure and personality uniquely Eritrean. His experiences in life are unmatched and worthy of emulating. But it is impossible to fill his shoes.
From a star national soccer player, a scholar, to a leadership position in a revolutionary endeavor, a central figure on formulating a national media outlet Dimtsi Hafash, to a diplomat and statesman. He was a star and will remain one in our hearts forever.
Ambassdor Girma lived true Eritrean Tegadalai’s life and as such disregarded his personal life. Ambassador Girma gave his life to Eritrea until his last breath. He enjoyed the challenges, the comradery, educating, the mingling and the Eritrean life. He lived his life with a purpose. He exemplified the meaning of living life with a purpose.
Ambassador Girma achieved Eritrea’s independence and helped lead Eritrea’s effort to ensure a bright future by addressing an existential challenge posed by the minority regime in Ethiopia. He saw their demise but unfortunately it was not God’s will to see their burial.
Hence, it is incumbent upon all Eritreans to ensure that WEYIN is buried deep in the ground in his honor. It is incumbent upon all to aspire to live his legacy and ensure united Eritrean community that stands with Eritrea.
PS: every time I thanked him for his selfless dedication and hard work he always turned it around and told me ” No, Thank You. Salakum.” Meaning, because of you. Ambassador Girma Asmerom, allow me to thank you one more time with this short poem.
Thank you does not serve you justice,
But, thank you anyway,
For there is no other way
But, I must thank you aware
Gratitude must be repaid
In deed worthy of your honor
Repay you by emulating you
Aspire to be you
In my own individual ways
Centered in the causes you lived for
To honor your life so you can live
So that we can live
Centered and anchored by Eritrea
A nation that will light your torch forever
The Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), is leading the Tigray region to danger of civil strife, economic hardship and isolation. Prior to 1991, the province of Tigray was one of the poorest, most isolated hungry provinces of Ethiopia. After 27 years in power, the TPLF have positioned Tigray to become much worse than what it was prior to 1991.
Today, Tigray is like a volcanic crater filled with lava lake ready to explode, unleash it’s fiery-fury in every direction. It is isolated mountain without connection to the world trapped without direction and leadership. How did it get here?
Before it assumed power in 1991, the TPLF did one-good thing, partnered with Eritrea. That partnership propelled it to power. But as soon as it came to power, the TPLF turned on Eritrea and started a 20-year journey of conflict that led to death of countless youth displacement, hardships and economic losses.
Certain it can bring Eritrea to her knees, the TPLF gambled on a zero-sum game and unleashed an all-out war to undo Eritrean independence in quest to become the hegemon of the region.
The TPLF exploited the war-on-terror campaign, long-standing US Ethiopia relations and colluded with Washington and unleashed a 20 year-long campaign and failed. TPLF’s actions lead to severed ties between Eritrea and Ethiopia. As result, traditional cross border exchanges, trade relations and social connection got disconnected.
TPLF’s hubris and short-sighted actions affected Ethiopia and the entire Horn of Africa (HOA) negatively. The atrocities in Somalia, Genocides in Ogaden, repression and killing in Oromo are examples of a regime out of control detached with its environs. The TPLF became occupying force of Ethiopia.
The best example of this is Gambela. Those who have not seen the documentary “Dead Monkeys Fear No Hyena,” must see to understand the depth of the penetrating impact the Tigrean led minority TPLF regime’s crimes against humanity openly.
In the name of development and growth, a national park the size of small country was given to Al Amoudi’s company Saudi Star. Which in turn destroyed the forest and turned it into farm-land that produced rice for export. In the process, the indigenous Anuak people were forced out of their homes and became refugees in South Sudan. Majority are displaced inside Ethiopia forced to live in makeshift camps outside their traditional comfort. With their traditional hunting grounds taken, they have no place to hunt and gather. And left with no choice they became workers on the rice fields of Saudi Star.
In Gambela city, the new settlers mostly Tigreans control the security, establishments, communication, transportation and all means of governance. The documentary shows with clarity, what an occupying force looks and acts like. It is a window to the exploitation and its impact on the environment and lives of the indigenous people.
“Ethiopian troops have forcibly displaced entire rural communities, ordering villagers to leave their homes within a few days or witness their houses being burnt down and their possessions destroyed-and risk death. Over the past year, Human Rights Watch has documented the execution of more than 150 individuals, many of them in demonstration killings. Hundreds-and possibly thousands-of individuals have been arrested and held in military barracks, sometimes multiple times, where they have been tortured, raped, and assaulted. Confiscation of livestock (the main asset among the largely pastoralist population), restrictions on access to water, food, and other essential commodities, and obstruction of commercial traffic and humanitarian assistance have been used as weapons.”
In Oromia, even if the trigger was the expansion plan of Addis Ababa, years of oppressive measures, exploitation of resources, mass killing, imprisonment and marginalization is what led to the revolts that pushed the TPLF to the brink. The people of Benishangul Gumuz and Omo have suffered similar fate like that of Gambela. According to Genocide Watch Malkamuu Jaatee January 2016 report,
“The direct human rights violation practices of the regime in Oromia and Southern (Benishangul-Gumuz, Gambella and Omo) regions of Ethiopia demonstrate atrocities of the land grabbers. For example, human rights violations in the lower Omo valley are characterized by arbitrary arrests and detentions, beatings and mistreatment, governing through fear and intimidation, and violations of economic, social and cultural rights. The government and its police force are cracking down, jailing and torturing indigenous people and raping women in the Omo region.”The Amhara region has been at war with the minority TPLF regime in Gondar, with the flash point Welkait Tegede for a long time. On a report, “Mistaken Identity of the Amhara People and the Quest for Resistance Against TPLF,” Welkait.com, Abinet Hunegnaw wrote,
“Now the most concealed and systematic terror and genocide condoned and sanctioned by a domestic born regime against the Amhara is in full swing since 1991 unabated. The past 25 years transformed Ethiopia in a tumultuous and complicated way into a living hell for each and every Amhara. The TPLF junta of Ethiopia has identified the Amhara as the number one enemy of the Tigryan people that must be dealt with harshly until it gets into the status of a dissipated, broken and weak, minority that won’t recover to pose any challenge to a future independent greater Tigryan state. This very genocidal hatred against the Amhara is officially stated by the TPLF manifesto of 1978. Since that moment on, the Woyane Tigryan ethno centric junta opened an all-out war against the history, culture, tradition, language, political and economic wellbeing and the very existence of the Amhara people.”
Similar events have been taking place in Afar region where armed rebellion against the regime raged for years. According to reports railroads from Djibouti to Addis Ababa was disconnected by people in the region demonstrating against the regime. African Intelligence magazine reported,
“Confrontations like this are a frequent occurrence in this region, where Afars oppose being expelled from their ancestral land, being displaced and the shortage of water points for their livestock along the River Awash. So far, all their complaints to the federal authorities have been to no avail.”On April of 2014, The Afar People’s Party released a statement condemning,
“displacement of thousands of Afar pastoralists continues due to land grabbing for Woyane affiliated investors in vicinities Afdera, Dallol, Teru and along the Awash Valley The pastoralists have been evicted to desert areas without access to water and other facilities.”Does Tigray Have a Regional Partner or Friends? The TPLF divided Ethiopia ethnically and used the military as tool of occupation. TPLF’s military became mercenaries for hire to western led initiatives. The TPLF made billions from Western interests in Somalia, South Sudan and Sudan to mention some.
The TPLF is expansionist, opportunist entity that lacks morality, humanity, humility, a sense of nationalism and dignity. Many have said TPLF is smart organization. They say TPLF has transferred Ethiopia, look at the high-rise buildings, the economy is growing 11% and so on. However, TPLF is the dumbest group of people in the history of Ethiopia and the region.
The only reason they came to power was because of Eritrea’s support. And the first thing they did was they picked a fight against Eritrea and the Oromo. As result, they lost Eritrea as a partner and the people of Oromia have waged a struggle since.
The TPLF failed to establish partnership with all of Ethiopia’s ethnic regions. It failed to establish friendship with countries in the region with exception to Sudan because it is the only lifeline Tigray has, and Djibouti Ethiopia’s main access to sea. The TPLF is loathed by Somalia, Eritrea and South Sudan.
In simple terms, Tigray is at odds on the East with Afar, on the south Welkait, and in the north Eritrea in fundamental ways. In Welkait dispute over land, in Afar dispute over land, and with Eritrea dispute over land. Everywhere in Ethiopia the TPLF is not welcome. Gambela, Oromia, Benishangul, Omo, Ogaden and everywhere else. And it is all about land-grab and the resources.
To provide perspective, we can compare the Derg led by Col. Mengistu Hailemariam and the TPLF EPRDF regime on how they handled land, and its implication to Ethiopia on a very simple level.
The Derg told Ethiopians, the land is yours and you can farm it. Land to the tiller. As result the farmers, the villagers supported Derg, chanted revolutionary slogans and supported his war efforts with nationalist fervor.
TPLF on the other hand, took away their land (known internationally as Land-Grab) and leased it to Agro-industrialist multinational corporations and turned the aborigines into migrant farm-workers in their country and own ancestral land. TPLF’s incessant appetite for land has placed it at odds with all the countries in the region and ethnic nationalities in Ethiopia.
How Did TPLF Serve Tigray? Tigray is a mystery to the outside observer. Only the people of Tigray know how well or badly Tigray is doing. There are reports of development, new highways, universities, airports and industries. The people of Tigray, at least looking from the outside in-the-Diaspora, live dual identities. In one hand strong sense of Tigray nationalism and when approaching the national issue, they look for Tigray bent. Their websites such as Aigaforum and Tigraionline have shown this for years.
For over 24 years, there has been silence by the people of Tigray. Little or no opposition to what the TPLF does or failed to do was aired publicly. Since the Oromo-protests begun however, there have been numerous public outcries by Tigreans at least in the diaspora.
They complained TPLF has turned Tigray into a military garrison where soldiers from all parts of Ethiopia are coming and having children with Tegaru. They complain of hardship, marginalization and thought protection from the government because they claimed establishments owned by Tigreans were targeted by demonstrators everywhere in Ethiopia and left their business and were forced to return to Tigray. Obviously, there is a precedent TPLF-set when it ethnic cleansed 80,000 Eritreans from Ethiopia. As the sayings goes; what is good for the goose is good for the gander. What goes around comes around.
The reality is, no matter how well Tigray is doing, without peace and partnership it will fail. This understanding was missing from the leaders of Tigray.
The TPLF’s grand-plan is to dominate the region and Ethiopia by controlling the Red Sea. TPLF is shortsighted and arrogantly believed it will defeat Eritrea. Their entire focus became on how to defeat Eritrea. They have targeted Eritrea militarily, socially, politically, diplomatically, economically and waged major public relations campaigns designed to vilify Eritrea, for years.
TPLF waged cultural wars and attempted to dilute Eritrean cultures as Habesha. The TPLF created a movement called Agazian movement focusing on Tigray and Eritrea. They called it Tigray Tigrigni. They aimed to weaken Eritrean nationalism using many tactics. They targeted Eritrean youth, music and ways of life. To undermine Eritrea as nation, they are coming up with all kinds of names like Tegaru Eritreans and have been making claims that Eritrea is Tigray openly.
The campaign against Eritrea drained Tigray and placed it on a dangerous path. For their grand-plan to work Eritrea must be defeated. But that is not the case. To the contrary Eritrea weathered the storm. Tigray on the other hand is at odds with itself and Ethiopia over Badme and everything else. The trajectory is not looking good.
What Next for Tigrai? The Tigray People’s Liberation Front misled Tigray for years. The TPLF created identity crisis in Tigray. Article 39 of the Ethiopian constitution is a reminder that the reason for the article in the first place was Tigray Manifesto of 1978 that ensured the secession of Tigray if need be. Hence, the people of Tigray have always had this in their mind when they see the future of Tigray.
With this in mind disparate advantage was accorded to Tigray region. According to Jawar Mohamed,
“Ever since the TPLF came to power, there has been a greater attempt to economically develop the Tigray region before the rest of the country. It is a common belief that the economic, bureaucratic, security and religious institutions of the central government hierarchy have been monopolized by Tigrean elites.”
They thought to develop Tigray at the expense of everyone else in the region. As the earlier comparison between Mengistu Hailemariam and TPLF exposed; Derg embraced the peasant, the masses, the proletariat. To the contrary, TPLF, an organization that is supposed to be Marxist ended up working against the masses by taking resources away from the people.
But the gravest mistake they made was when they picked a fight against Eritrea. One thing they forgot, overlooked and underestimated is the resolve of the people of Eritrea, the brilliance of Eritrean government and her leadership. They forgot how EPLF’s long memory and far sighted approach worked. They believed their temporary partnership with the West will suffice and see them through. They thought if they brought Eritrea to her knees, control the Red Sea, they can control Ethiopia and the region indefinitely. They dreamt big.
In the process what was lost was the reality, respect for the rule of law, give and take. They believed they are above it-all, and if they cannot get their way they acted like spoiled child threw tantrums, threats and attempted to intimidate. They forgot how to communicate with respect. Their communication became a PR ploy of one-upmanship. They flexed their muscle and threatened regime change, war etc. all the time.
This created identity crisis inside Tigray at appears. When it served them, nationally-made decisions were praised but, when they felt the decision did not go their way they rejected it.
The most glaring example of this is the latest decision by the new appointed Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed. The announcement that Ethiopia will abide by the Algiers Final and Binding Agreement was met by heavy protests inside Tigray. In reaction to the protest, spokesperson of the Tigray region Mr. Redai Halefom, in an interview with the Voice of America (VOA) rejected PM Abiy’s declaration completely. He said we have to have dialogue with Eritrea first.
Hence, the people of Tigray must come to grips with the reality of the situation. The TPLF has lost all its marbles one by one over the years. Its upper hand no longer exists in Washington. The people of Ethiopia fear TPLF no more.
TPLF’s economic prowess was due to the businesses it owned and international investments in various parts of Ethiopia. China announced it will scale back investments because they see what is going on in Oromia, and other places. The people have assumed ownership of their lands and resources. That denies TPLF economic advantage it enjoyed for long. The TPLF has bankrupted Ethiopia. There is no money.
There is myth that TPLF is still in control of the intelligence apparatus and military. It takes money to run intelligence, but most importantly, intelligence to what end. The people have taken over. They have assumed power.
The TPLF, Malelit, is an organization without principle full of personalities that are corrupt deceitful, embezzlers, profiteers that exploited Ethiopia and the region. Lying, cheating, deception, killing, torture is engrained deep into the culture of Weyane. The people of Tigray must come to grips with this reality quickly.
Concluding Remarks The wars, the No-War-No-Peace campaign TPLF waged against Eritrea ended up hurting Tigray more than Eritrea. Eritrea has prevailed. Furthermore, the people of Ethiopia fear TPLF no more. Therefore, if the people of Tigray want to live in peace with the people of Eritrea, the region and Ethiopia; they must come to grips with the reality detailed in this piece.
It will take miracle to extricate Tigray from this conundrum and place it on the right direction. But first, the people of Tigray must recognize their future hinges on one move and that is, in order to move forward they must abandon the TPLF. They must side with the people, denounce the TPLF and pray that that is enough.